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Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy

In the University of Cambridge, the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy plays a central and major role in research and teaching in materials science. With an academic staff of nearly 30, the Department's research covers all major areas of the subject, and this breadth is reflected in the scope of our four-year undergraduate course. The emphasis in undergraduate teaching is always on the underlying principles which are applicable to the whole range of engineering materials; ceramics, metals, polymers, composites, solid state device materials. The lecture courses are integrated with laboratory work, projects, example classes and supervisions in small groups. Supervisions are mainly college-based and enable students to receive personal attention, so that they can receive additional help with the topics they find difficult and have extra encouragement with the parts of the course in which they are particularly interested. Contact with industry plays an important part in the course through visits to industrial facilities, speakers from industry and vacation placements.

The Department has a large and vigorous research school, with about 100 research fellows, postdoctoral scientists and visiting scientists, and more than 120 research students studying for the PhD degree. The growth in our research activities over the past twenty years has been almost exponential, with a current research income of more than £4 million per year and a doubling time of about seven years. Although our research has always been closely linked with industrial needs and supported in large part by industry as well as government, recent trends have seen the development of larger-scale working relationships with major research sponsors such as Rolls-Royce, Regenesys Technologies and Pfizer. Similarly, our wide range of international contacts which bring visiting researchers to Cambridge from all over the world has been extended through formal collaboration agreements with institutions in Switzerland, Singapore and most recently, the USA via the Cambridge-MIT Institute.

Located in the heart of Cambridge, the Department occupies buildings which range from the original home of the Cavendish Laboratory, built in 1873, to a new seminar room completed in 2000. Our site is the scene of some of the most significant advances in science, including the discovery of the electron in 1897 and the elucidation of the structure of DNA in 1953. Within these historic and also more modern buildings the Department's laboratories are well-equipped to characterise and fabricate all types of materials.

The Department is structured to take materials research forward into the new century with a rapidly growing commitment to the field of biomedical materials, in parallel with our historically strong activities in the development of structural materials and processes, and of device materials. Underpinning these are our world-class facilities for materials characterisation, including state-of-the-art electron microscopes, among the most advanced in the country. Both computational modelling and process technology have evolved remarkably in recent years, and advanced computer simulations of material behaviour are supported by a network of high-powered computers, including the University's supercomputer.

The Department is home to graduate students from all over the world, mostly studying for the PhD degree. About 30 new graduate students arrive each year, many of whom join us with backgrounds in physics, chemistry or engineering. A new course leading to the MPhil degree in Computational Modelling of Materials has been started in 2000, designed for graduates from many different disciplines, and echoing the rapid growth and importance of this approach in materials research. Formal application, as either a PhD or MPhil student, must be made to the Board of Graduate Studies, but the Department is always keen to hear from prospective students, who are encouraged to identify possible research areas from the staff profiles on this site. Full details of our research activities, including a searchable database of all current research projects, and a list of possible PhD projects can be found on the departmental website.


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